- Category : Actor
- Type : GP
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Rulership 4
Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch Demsky December 9, 1916) is an American actor and film producer known for his gravelly voice and his recurring roles as the kinds of characters Douglas himself once described as "sons of bitches".
He is also father to Hollywood actor and producer Michael Douglas. He came in at #17 on AFI's list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time and is one of two living actors on the list (Sidney Poitier being the other).
Douglas was born in Amsterdam, New York to Herschel Danielovitch and Bryna Sanglel, poor Russian Jewish parents who immigrated from Homel (also known as Gomel), now in Belarus. He was on the wrestling team at St. Lawrence University. To help make his way through college, he thought getting an acting scholarship might work. His talents got him noticed at the acclaimed American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, where he soon received a scholarship, alongside classmate Betty Joan Perske (soon to be better known as Lauren Bacall). Another classmate was aspiring Bermudian actress, Diana Dill. He then served in the U.S. Navy from the entry of the US into World War II in 1941 until it ended in 1945. In 1943, his former classmate, Diana Dill, appeared on the cover of Life magazine. Seeing her photograph, Douglas told his fellow sailors that he would marry her, which he did on 2 November, 1943. After the war, he returned to New York City and started doing radio theater and commercials, while trying to break in on Broadway.
Douglas was helped by actress Lauren Bacall in obtaining his first screen role in the Hal B. Wallis movie The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), starring Barbara Stanwyck. Wallis was on his way to New York to look for new talent when Bacall suggested he look up her old drama school classmate, who was working in an off-Broadway play at the time.
Kirk Douglas received three Academy Award nominations for his work in Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful and Lust for Life (as Vincent Van Gogh). Douglas did not win any competitive Oscars, but received a special Oscar in 1996 for "50 years as a moral and creative force in the motion picture community".
He also played an important role in breaking the Hollywood blacklist by publicly opposing Stanley Kubrick's intention to take credit for the screenplay of Spartacus, which had been adapted from Howard Fast's novel by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. Douglas had collaborated closely with Kubrick in Paths of Glory, where Douglas played one of his most memorable roles, as Colonel Dax, the commander of a French regiment during World War I ordered to make a suicidal attack.
For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Kirk Douglas has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6263 Hollywood Blvd. In 1984, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
In October 2004, the avenue "Kirk Douglas Way" in Palm Springs, California was named in his honor by the Palm Springs International Film Society and Film Festival.
Popular at home and around the world, Kirk Douglas received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981, the French Legion of Honor in 1985, and the National Medal of the Arts in 2001.
Douglas married twice, first to Diana Dill (born January 22, 1923; married November 2, 1943; divorced in 1951), with whom he had two sons, actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas. His second wife is Anne Buydens (married May 29, 1954 to present) with whom he has two sons, producer Peter Vincent Douglas born November 23, 1955 and actor Eric Douglas (born June 1958; died July 6, 2004 of an accidental drug overdose).
In 1996, he suffered a stroke, partially impairing his ability to speak. On December 8, 2006, Douglas appeared on Entertainment Tonight, where the entire staff wished him a happy 90th birthday the night before. His son Michael, along with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, were among the many celebrities who attended his birthday celebration. On the show, he discussed the books he has written, and the death of his son, Eric in 2004.